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When Kentucky State begins classes for the 2021 fall semester, students will be on campus.

The KSU Board of Regents, in its quarterly meeting held virtually Thursday, heard a report from Dr. Lucian Yates III, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“Given the statistics in the state of Kentucky, and nationally for that matter, it looks like COVID is on its way out,” Yates told the board’s academic affairs committee.

“Not completely, some things could happen over the summer, but we have to plan with the data that we have. We make the best decision that we can, right now, given the information that we have, and it looks like the best decision is to come back to school in the fall for our students.”

Yates said he has talked to several students about upcoming plans.

“They’re ready to come back and meet face to face,” he said. “Most of our classes in the fall will be face to face with several online offerings.”

Yates said the school will continue to have students, faculty and staff wear masks indoors, and that COVID-19 testing and vaccinations will be encouraged unless it violates someone’s religious beliefs.

Regent Joe Moffett asked how a professor should handle the situation if a student comes to class without a mask.

“That was one of the topics at the CPE (Council on Postsecondary Education) presidents’ meeting,” KSU President Dr. M. Christopher Brown said. “All of the campuses are working in tandem as of yesterday to come up with a common set of agreements and practices so that one campus is not doing one thing in the public spaces and another campus is doing another thing. We need a little bit more time to fine tune that.”

Brown also said that all public universities in the state are returning to double occupancy housing, and that online classes are still an option.

“For the students who may have underlying health conditions or parental concerns, we have done our best effort to have duplicative courses offered in the online space,” he said, “but we will not offer 100% of our courses in a duplicative model.

"Students may have to swap a course they intended to take, but students will be able to continue online.”

The board approved a contract extension for Brown that was recommended by Regent Chairman Elaine Farris.

“As you all know, we had finished up Dr. Brown’s evaluation in March,” she said. “We had input from stakeholders in the community, faculty, students, staff, and AGB (Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges) came and did that assessment for us.

“We talked about the major accomplishments as a board, and we were very pleased with the leadership and things that have taken place.”

Farris said an extension of Brown’s contract has been done on a yearly basis. This year the board approved an extension of four years with the new contract beginning July 1 and running through July 31, 2025, with the ability to extend the contract up to four years thereafter.

Brown’s current contract ends in July.

The extension didn’t include a pay increase. Brown’s annual salary is $270,000.

The board approved Brown’s recommendation to not raise tuition for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“The ability to collect revenue from the students has been a challenge over the years,” Brown said. “Right now, we’re doing an excellent job of collecting revenue.”

He added that increasing tuition might make collecting revenue more difficult.

Brown also cited the financial difficulties COVID-19 may have placed on some students and their families as another reason not to increase tuition.

The board approved the fiscal year 2021-22 operating budget. The proposed budget is $49,988,686.

Brown said KSU’s five-year average of full-time equivalent (FTE) students is 1,891, but the budget was based on a conservative model of 1,550.

Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Douglas R. Allen II gave the quarterly budget report.

Through April 30, Allen reported the university was in the black at around $47,000 and should end the fiscal year on June 30 in the black if it stays on its current track.

The board approved the hiring of Leroy Hamilton as provost and vice president of academic affairs, and it extended the contract of Clara Ross Stamps, senior vice president for brand identity and university relations.

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